Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avoiding the Naughty List

Today is my day for Christmas shopping. There
~ List Inspector ~

was a time when that meant squirming my way through the crowd at the mall, but no more. The mere thought of it summons images of Dante's Seven Circles of Hell and I run, not walk, the other way. Instead, I'll spend most of my time in the Old Port, a gentrified section of downtown Portland, within walking distance of the "new" port. During the summer months, cruise ships dock and tourists flock like geese fleeing the Canadian cold into little shops stacked to the ceilings with calenders, post cards, and plastic models of Maine light houses.

Now, exactly where I'll go is anyone's guess. Ordinarily, I wander and try to le
t my imagination take the lead. Aside from a few ideas I've mulled over and "old reliables" that please every year, I'm looking for something new and unexpected. Hopefully, spontaneity won't let me down.

Parking is the only problem. Since it's mostly the on-street variety, you have to feed a meter every two hours, but that provides some structure to the process and helps keep me on track. At this point, I'm thinking I should go, so I'll finish this when I return and let you know how it went.

All in all, it was a good day. I can't tell you what I bought because this is a public forum and those who should be expecting surprises on Christmas morning may be readers (sorry, no hints). One thing I will say, I was touched by the consideration people show each other this time of year. Folks almost seemed to compete for the privilege of holding a door open for strangers and even in stores with a line for the register, they waited patiently. Maybe it's because Maine is rural and Portland has the flavor of a small town that you see this.

That's one explanation, I suppose. But, there's also another one -- you didn't get this from me, by the way -- and that is (whispering) everyone I met believes in Santa Claus and they're diligently trying to avoid the Naughty List at the last minute. With a week to go, who's taking chances? Not me, that's for sure.

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